A couple of days ago I heard an actor of a Turkish drama (dubbed in Urdu) saying “You know, a chewing gum takes 150 years to degrade.” My response was “What?” and then the stupid guilty feeling appeared because I had chewed 3 gums in the morning. I know, I know. We all like to have a chewing gum once in a while. But see the difference between you and me is that I am becoming an environmentalist and this puts more burden on my shoulders.
Well, enough of the chit chat. Lets get back to the problem part. (I thought of adding an info-graphic here and put myself at ease. But I have been doing so for days. It seems kind of unfair to me. So, if you get bored with the sciency stuff, there is an infographic at the end of this post.)
- According to Canadian research, vinyl acetate, which is used to manufacture the polyvinyl acetate in gum base, is a toxic substance and should not be used in food products.
Chewing gum does however contain other ingredients that you may wish to think twice about before putting in your mouth.
- One of these is the preservative butylated hydroxyanisol (BHA.) BHA has shown carcinogenicity in animals and is considered as a human carcinogen.
- Then there are those artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and acesulfame K. During storage and when heated aspartame quickly breaks down into its component parts, each of which is considered toxic. Aspartame’s two major constituents, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, can cause brain damage at high doses. Even at the low levels permitted in foods, aspartame can be toxic to people with the disease phenylketonuria (PKU), which is why the UK’s Food Standards Agency requires food containing asparteme labeled as ‘contains a source of phenylalanine’.
- Acesulfame K has been shown to be carcinogenic to animals, which means it may also be a cancer risk in humans.
- One of the biggest problems is that most chewing gums are non-biodegradable (that is they are not decomposed easily by living organisms.)
But as far as I am searching, I have observed that some gums, which are being manufactured nowadays, are biodegradable and non-toxic. So, good news you don’t have to leave gum. Just check the ingredients before you buy it.
And here is the infographic you have been waiting for.